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How to use color to boost productivity

Having a hard time knocking items off your to-do list? The colors in your office might be to blame. Boost productivity and create a more stylish home office by making some new color choices. We’re getting some expert input on using color to increase your motivation to get things done.

“Color is so key in a home office because it stimulates the eye and the mind,” says award-winning interior designer and creativeLIVE instructor Tobi Fairley. She shares her tips for using color to boost productivity.

go-cart aqua desk

Freshen up your furniture

Chances are, your office desk is functional and does a good job organizing your files, but how do you feel when you really look at it? If your desk is purely utilitarian, with no sense of fun or color, it might be time to spice things up, suggests Fairley. A colorful desk can spark creativity, which in turn boosts your productivity. “Hit your desk with a coat of a bold, statement paint color,” she says. “It’s probably the biggest piece of furniture in your office and will make the most impact.” Fairley advises choosing a vibrant hue like emerald, or something else eye-catching that will fit within the overall decor of the space.

Check it out: Go-cart aqua desk (CB2, $149)

Behr Slate Grey C60-33

Paint your walls wisely

White walls might not be the way to go if you want to get more done, notes Fairley. “Working in a room that isn’t painted a boring stark white can make a huge difference to your mindset and your productivity level,” she explains. “Feel free to experiment, but don’t forget that this will be the dominant hue in your office, so you want something that complements other colors well.” If you’re looking for something calming and neutral without being boring, Fairley suggests choosing a shade of gray. “I find that shades of gray are calming and look great with most other colors, but any color works as long as it makes you feel inspired.”

Check it out: Behr slate gray C60-33 (contact Behr for pricing)

purple desktop set

Upgrade to colorful accessories

Now that your walls and desk have joined what Fairley refers to as the “color club,” you can go crazy with the accessories. “View your office supplies as an opportunity to inject punches of color into your workspace,” she says. “They’ll help you be more productive if you’re feeling cooped up inside.”

Fairley suggests trading a boring stapler for one in a cheerful pop of blue. A standard pencil jar can become a fiery red focal point. You can even infuse color into your tape dispenser by buying Japanese washi tape. If all else fails, she notes that fresh flowers are a cheap and beautiful way to bring a bold infusion of color into your space.

Check it out: Purple desktop set (Poppin, $51)

Pendaflex file folders

Use color to help you organize

Getting — and staying — organized doesn’t need to be boring. In fact, Fairley suggests using color to keep things tidy and in place. “Want to give that bold desk a point of reference? Mimic the shade in your organizational system. Instead of hiding paperwork in a filing cabinet, buy file folders in the same hue and proudly put them on display in a bookshelf,” she advises. “It’s a great opportunity to insert a wall of color into your office, and you’re organizing your paperwork at the same time.” Alternatively, if you use an “inspiration board” or framed corkboard for notes, Fairley says you can paint the edges the same color as your desk, and suddenly you have an organizational system that’s just as functional as it is stylish.

Check it out: Pendaflex file folders (Amazon, $9)

Choose black-and-white photos

If you’re like most people, you likely have pictures of family or pets at your desk, but sometimes too many colorful snapshots can be distracting and cluttered, warns Fairley. “Instead of framing a bunch of images and placing them all over the room, make a collage of your loved ones using black-and-white photos only,” she advises. “The simple color scheme goes well with everything, won’t look cluttered, and you’ll still be surrounded by smiling faces in the office.”

Check it out: Display your photos in a simple black frame (IKEA, $2)

simple black frame

Tips on choosing colors that help you work better

Choosing the colors that can help jump-start your day — and keep you going — comes down to how you want to feel and what motivates you. “The color you choose for your office is really up to personal preference and goals,” notes Fairley. For example, if you want to be less tense, she suggests going with a shade of green, which studies show evokes nature and relaxes people. “Research also shows that blue sparks higher performance in workers.”

If you want to boost your energy, consider bright colors like red, orange or yellow, advises Fairley. She explains that those hues stimulate energy and increase optimism. “That doesn’t mean you should paint all four walls orange, but use the color strategically and in your sight line from your desk.”

More home decorating tips

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 3 Obvious reasons to decorate your home with fuchsia
 24 Enchanting mantel accents

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